||Sprachcaffe and ELS make acquisitions
Sprachcaffe Languages Plus has announced the acquisition of the Geos North America network of schools, while ELS Education Services which operates over 50 schools across the USA and Canada has agreed to incorporate Universal English College (UEC) in Sydney, Australia, into its portfolio.
Due to the Geos deal, Sprachcaffe now has 31 language schools, including 12 in North America. In a statement Sprachcaffe said that agents and students could take advantage of a wider range of programmes and booking options. “The financial and administrative support contributed by Sprachcaffe will ensure the continuous success of the Geos schools in North America.” US-based Open Hearts International College, which had moved to purchase the North American contingent of schools last year (see LTM, November 10, page 7) had rescinded its previously announced acquisition. Meanwhile, UEC, which recently moved to a new city campus, will now be known as ELS Universal English College and will be adding the ELS English for Academic Purposes course to its catalogue. “This allows ELS to develop additional international pathways for international students, offering them a greater diversity of choices and options around the globe,” said Mark Harris, ELS President and CEO.
New language school admin system
Good Hope Studies in South Africa has been involved in the development of an online administration system for language schools, which will become available to market during 2012.
Designed and developed by the Austrian web specialists, Getdesigned GmbH, the new system, entitled Easymate, covers all typical administration areas of a language school such as the registration process, marketing and finance. Special features include an accommodation placement system and graphic interfaces for tuition planning. The system can deal with multiple currencies and with operations in more than one destination.
Focus has been placed on developing a user-friendly interface, meaning users need very little training, and as an online system, Easymate doesn’t require language schools to have an expensive IT infrastructure. The system has undergone three years of programming and testing, and online demonstrations and test accounts are available.
Sarah Gaylard, Director of Studies at the Cape-Town based school, said, “I now rely on Easymate for all my planning. Information that used to be contained in several documents is now in one place and it’s easy to find the information that I need.”
Rebrand for ILSC
International Language Schools of Canada (ILSC) has changed its name to ILSC Education Group in order to reflect its expanding international presence and more clearly define the company’s respective education branches.
In 2007 ILSC expanded outside of Canada with a location in New Delhi, India and has since added centres in San Francisco, USA, and Sydney and Brisbane in Australia. In addition to its language schools, ILSC offers a range of educational programmes, including vocational and teacher training, corporate language training, and continuing studies. ILSC will retain the original acronym in respect of the company’s Canadian origins and brand recognition.
The ILSC Education Group logo and visual branding has also gone through a refresh. The new logo retains key symbols from the original, but also reflects ILSC’s global focus and core company philosophies.
Advisor of the month
In a series appearing each month in Study Travel Magazine, we ask a different language teaching institution to nominate one of their preferred agencies or agent partners, and to explain why this person/company is worthy of their nomination.
This month Kästner Kolleg e.V. - Tandem Dresden in Germany nominates Intact in the Czech Republic. Dr. Uwe Kästner, Managing Director of the school, explains this decision.
“We would like nominate Intact in the Czech Republic as our Advisor of the Month. We can look back on a four-year relationship with this agency; a relationship that has been steadily increasing due to their professional work in terms of being very quick, accurate and friendly, particularly with email responses and enquiries. They are efficient in marketing and in promoting our school in the Czech Republic, resulting in them finding many young people who want to study abroad, especially learning German in Dresden. They inform their clients well and prepare them for their stay in Dresden. Students come to us well informed about what they can expect from our school so they will always get what is promised and leave satisfied and happy. Also, whenever a problem comes up, Intact staff handle things in a calm and diplomatic way so that neither of the partners involved agency, student, school feel offended but always well informed. We hope to receive many more students from them and look forward to a long and fruitful business relationship with them.”
Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. What has your experience been like sending students to the USA for study purposes?
Kassiana Pozzatti, Experimento, Brazil
“I have to admit that it is difficult to partner US universities. This is because they do not or prefer not to recruit students through agents and when they have a partnership with an exchange agency, the process of enrolment is quite long and/or difficult and the commission paid is not good enough. Of course, universities have a reputation to maintain, but it would be good if they could prepare a demanding selection process to recruit agents and prepare them to advise and recruit students. I do not think that US institutions are more susceptible to using agents and it can be realised when I am at an education fair and universities and colleges have their own stands showing the academic programmes and explaining the application and payment processes. The result is: the institutions, when they do not have a partnership with agents, become competitors.”
Karen Ong, Language International, USA
“For English language learning in the US, commission-based student recruitment is accepted as standard business practice. However, higher education institutions in the US do not view commission-based recruitment as the norm. Those who argue against commission-based recruitment see an inherent ethical challenge in offering commission to agents. They believe that the financial incentives involved invite misrepresentation, conflict of interest, and potentially fraud. Proponents of commission-based recruitment, on the other hand, argue that offering financial incentives to agents has existed as a business norm in many countries for many years. Furthermore, they argue that agents need to be compensated for the service they provide to both schools and students. Despite the arguments against it, I do think that higher education institutions in the US are likely to change their thinking. Of course, Ivy League universities such as Harvard will never ever pay commissions. But second-tier private universities, state universities, and community colleges will very likely change.”
Marc Hugo, Study Experience, France
“The relationship (or lack thereof) between many US institutions and agents is partly due to the sometimes confusing nature of US law. For a long time, it was widely accepted that recruiting students via agents was illegal. There is some truth in this assumption, but only in so far that it is illegal for a US-agent based on US-soil to recruit US-students for US-institutions. Working with agents is in many ways a natural and sensible thing to do. Local knowledge enables them to recruit more effectively. Another challenge with regard to US institutions has been to overcome the negative connotations associated to the word “agent”. Many believe that agents are solely commission-driven, with little concern as to what’s best for the student. This is true in the case of some, but is no more common than institutions who charge students for bogus degrees. I like to think it only concerns a minority in both cases.”
Ruth Aeschbacher, Lingua Solutions, Switzerland
“The experience we have had when dealing with US schools has been predominantly positive, and in our most recent experience we noticed an increase in commission. A reason why many US schools haven’t used agents in the past might be that the attraction to the USA was higher about 15-to-20 years ago. If schools have suffered a decrease in their European business lately, they should acknowledge that agents (a common thing in Europe) might help them to recruit more students and consequently increase their business.”
On the move
Nick Stevenson has recently joined ppi Business Communications from Hothouse Media. Joining as International Sales Manager at the supply print and distribution company for international educators, he said, “After three fantastic years at STM, it’s great that I am able to build on the existing relationships I have in the industry, as ppi continues to establish their client base overseas.”
James Herbertson has left Language in Group in the UK to set up accommodation business, London Nest an organisation that aims to match English language schools with accommodation providers that best suit them and their students’ needs. “I enjoyed very much my time as Sales Director at Language in Group and am now looking forward to new challenges,” said Mr Herbertson.
Ms Marisol Lopez (left)has joined Peruvian agency, Escuelas del Mundo, to support the team in administration and registration services. Having graduated with a degree in hotel management, Ms Lopez is fluent in English. Meanwhile, Ms Karem Lukashevich (right), who is studying towards a marketing degree as well as English, will provide marketing support to the organisation. “Both young ladies are very nice and enthusiastic and I have no doubt that, as part of our team, they will help improve the quality of our services both to our schools and to our students,” noted Director, Lucrecia Forsyth.
Amy Rogers has recently been appointed the UK ELT Marketing Manager at the British Council in the UK. Ms Rogers brings to the role over four years experience working in the ELT sector and her new role will focus on promoting the UK as an English language study destination. Having previously worked with the British Council’s accreditation scheme, Ms Rogers will be able to use the knowledge gained there in her new role.
Sofia Fominova has been appointed Marketing Manager at Carfax Education providing guidance and support to individuals and institutions who seek to access excellent educational opportunities within Britain, Switzerland and the USA. Having graduated with a BSc in Government and Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science, Ms Fominova worked for Prosperity Capital Management (PCM) during her studies.
Students walk out on US work programme
Hundreds of international students on the J-1 visa Summer Work and Travel programme have walked off their jobs at the Hershey chocolate factory in Pennsylvania and protested about the working conditions they faced.
The programme allows university students to spend the summer in the USA with two months of work and one month of travel. Participants at Hershey from various countries, including China, Nigeria and Ukraine, complained that they were treated as cheap labour, forced to do physically demanding work, had little money remaining after rent deductions and had no chance to learn about American culture.
The US Labor Department has launched two separate investigations into conditions at the Hershey plant. The Council for Educational Travel USA (Cetusa), the sponsor that provided 375 students to Hershey, said that the students received the same hourly rate as local employees. “Each student received and signed a written job offer detailing the job description and requirements prior to departure from their home country. One of the complaints by students is that it is difficult work, which may or may not be true. Despite that, this particular position with this specific employer continues to be a job often requested by our exchange students,” Cetusa said in a statement.
This summer the US government made amendments to the J-1 visa designed to protect students after a record number of complaints were received in 2010 (see STM, September 2011, page 10).
New student apartment for ELC
The English Language Company has introduced a premium apartment accommodation option in the centre of Sydney, Australia, offering six en suite single rooms. The apartment is located within the Urbanest residence on Quay Street, near Central Station and a ten-minute walk from the school.
Housing both international and domestic students, the residence provides secure swipe card access, a large social lounge and a landscaped courtyard, as well as a community engagement programme. The ELC apartment will be equipped with study facilities and individual Internet accounts. “It meets all requirements students currently ask for in terms of facilities, services, location and design,” said Anne Menard, Marketing Manager at ELC, which also has student house, homestay and hostel accommodation.
ISI launches iPhone app
International Student Insurance (ISI) has launched an ISI Student Zone mobile application for the Apple iPhone, designed to assist students by allowing them to manage a number of tasks.
“The launch of this new application is in response to growing demand from our customers who want the ease and convenience of managing their plans on the go,” said Keith Clausen, President of ISI. The app, which is a free download in the Apple iTunes App Store, allows students to manage tasks including updating personal details and credit card details, renewing insurance plans, viewing their insurance ID card, and viewing claims information. “The new app will allow students an added convenience if they are at the doctor and they have forgotten their insurance ID card, the app will allow them to pull up the card on their screen to show the provider,” Clausen added.
New accommodation and services for Unite
UK-based Student accommodation provider Unite has announced that it has planning consent and funding for a 563-bed student accommodation project in Camden, North London. The scheme represents part of Unite’s London development plans for an additional 4,000 beds in the capital by 2014.
The Camden development is scheduled for completion in 2013 and will offer a range of cluster apartments and spacious studios. Richard Simpson, Unite’s Development Director, said, “The scheme in Camden is a further milestone in our target to substantially expand our presence in the key London market. We expect London to continue to benefit from strong market fundamentals, with the supply/demand imbalance still a key factor, and we expect it to remain the most attractive and thereby resilient destination for UK and international students.”
Meanwhile, the company has also teamed up with five partners to launch pre-arrival services for international students coming to the UK. The scheme will offer insurance, assistance with flights and transfers, enable customers to set up UK bank accounts prior to arrival, provide technology solutions for overseas television channels and mobile phone configuration, and provide a premium arrival pack.
This month, David O’Grady, MEI Chief Executive, talks about the challenges Ireland’s ELT sector faces, and about the activation of their new Learner Protection policy.
Full name: Marketing English in Ireland (MEI)
Year established: 1993
Number of members: 52
Type of members: Private language schools and universities (honorary membership also exists for individuals who have made outstanding contribution to ELT in Ireland)
Association’s main role: The raising of Ireland’s ELT profile internationally
Government recognition: Accreditation by Department of Education & Skills. For MEI member schools in Northern Ireland the basic requirement is that they be approved by the British Council
Code of practice: yes
Complaints procedure: yes
Agent Workshops/fam trips: yes
Contact details: 1 Lower Pembroke Street, Dublin 2, Ireland
Tel: +353 16180910
What has your association been up to recently?
MEI was happy to see 2010 enrolment figures increase by three per cent on 2009. More reassuring was the fact that the 2010 revenue increased by 17 per cent, due mostly to long-term students from Saudi Arabia, Korea and Brazil. 2011 saw a decrease in MEI membership and, unhappily, the closure of one member school. The difficulties for students on the closure of a school, DBL, were assuaged by the fact that all the ELT students there were immediately relocated in other MEI schools in Dublin. This is because of the MEI policy on Learner Protection and this was the first time that the policy was activated since it was adopted. 2011 saw the start of the new MEI pilot scheme for Turkish students. The hope for 2012 is to expand this scheme and to then apply the template to other markets. Also, at our 2011 MEI Workshop last month, we welcomed the head of the Irish Government, Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD.
What challenges could member schools face?
Continuing recession in many of our markets is always a challenge. Also, the fate of the Euro is a matter of concern. We work closely with government departments to ensure that immigration policy, in the sense that it impacts on international students, becomes and, hopefully, remains in tune with the needs of our members. The problem of air access to Ireland remains a burning issue. Many airlines are curtailing routes into Ireland and those operating the existing routes make it difficult, and expensive, for agents and students to be flexible in their forward planning. Domestically, Ireland has to remain competitive costs for host families, residences, transport, daily living otherwise international students can’t afford to stay in the country.
Has the Irish ELT market benefitted from the UK’s plight concerning the overhaul of its visa system?
Changes on UK visa system have not seen any immediate changes or trends in our business. Obviously, business is best when got as the result of one’s efforts and not because of the problems of others. There certainly has been a huge increase in the number of UK-based schools/operators looking to establish a base in Ireland to facilitate a disaffected client base no longer able to get into the UK.
What marketing activities are you planning?
Marketing activities involve focus on China and Brazil. Huge markets like these should be enough to keep a modest organisation like ours busy for the near, medium and long-term future.
• Israel’s Ministry of Transportation has announced that the country’s second international airport will be built at Tinma, 18km north of Eilat. Construction of the airport, to be named after the late Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon and his son Assaf, is already underway and is expected to be completed by 2014. The project is being built to ease pressure on Israel’s sole international airport, the Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, where traffic is growing at three to five per cent annually. A light rail service will also be built to connect the airport to Eilat city centre. • ANA, the Japanese carrier, and budget airline, AirAsia, are teaming up to form the first low-cost carrier to be based at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport
• A man was arrested at Miami airport in the USA after being discovered with snakes and tortoises inside his trousers. The passenger was on his way to Brazil when the unusual carry-on luggage was spotted as he passed through a body scanner. The US Transportation Security Administration said the man had seven exotic snakes and three tortoises wrapped in nylon and concealed within his undergarments. He was arrested by US Fish and Wildlife Service officials for violating animal trafficking laws.
• AirAsia X will commence flights from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Osaka Kansai Airport in Japan from the end of December. “We estimate that more than 60 per cent of AirAsia X passengers to and from Osaka will be first time visitors, which will contribute significantly to tourism growth, allowing AirAsia X to open up new market segments from Osaka,” said Azran Osman-Rani, AirAsia X Chief Executive Officer. Several other additions to the low-cost carrier’s network are expected over the coming months.
• Several new short-haul routes between the UK and Europe have been announced. German carrier Jetisfaction has launched daily scheduled flights between London Southend and Munster Osnabruck International Airport. Iberia’s regional franchise partner, Air Nostrum, has commenced a daily service between Madrid and Manchester, which compliments its recently inaugurated twice-weekly Madrid to Glasgow route. Ryanair will fly twice daily from London Stansted to Barcelona from the beginning of December, with flights into Barcelona’s El Prat Airport rather than the more distant Girona Airport that the carrier has used previously. Lufthansa subsidiary, Bmi Regional, has opened a three-times daily East Midlands to Frankfurt service. And finally, Jet2 will offer a three-times weekly connection between Glasgow and Rome Flumicino from early next year.
• Qantas has announced plans for a premium airline based in Asia to take advantage of increasing middle class demand from countries such as India and China. The as-yet-unnamed airline will not carry the Qantas name and will take the form of a joint venture. Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce, said it was “absolutely clear that the future of Asia is not just about low-fares airline travel”. Meanwhile, the carrier has also announced a collaboration with JAL and Mitsubishi Corporation to launch Jetstar Japan, which will offer domestic services and short-haul international flights from the end of 2012.
• Eurostar has launched a free mobile phone application that allows passengers to book high-speed rail services across Europe on-the-move and receive tickets directly to their phones. The Eurostar iPhone app will issue an electronic barcode that can be scanned at check-in. Other functions of the app include live updates of any service disruptions and a personal profile page. An updated mobile version of the Eurostar website has also been launched. “The new Eurostar App and mobile website represent the start of many exciting mobile developments for Eurostar, which will help ensure we become the first choice operator of short-haul travel from the UK to Europe,” said Nick Mercer, Eurostar Commercial Director.
• Emirates has announced that it will commence daily flights from Dubai to Dublin from January 2012, marking the airline’s first direct route to Ireland. “We see strong potential in Ireland through its industry, technology, tourism and the huge number of Irish nationals living overseas,” said HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates Chairman and Chief Executive. Emirates has already opened routes to Geneva and Copenhagen this year and will inaugurate links to St Petersburg, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires over the coming months.
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